My poor mother is both gluten and dairy free at the moment. I say "poor" because I cannot imagine a world without cheese, but she has benefited greatly from removing those items and so is fairly rich in the amount of healing she has received. Every other week we wait hungrily for our "Organics to You" box to arrive at our doorstep.
Lately we've been getting a lot of spinach and a lot of basil, so much so that we aren't sure how to use all of it in a timely manner. They are amazing, powerful vitamin-rich foods in themselves, but the basil specifically gave us a little bit of trouble.
Basil pesto? Can't have it with regular pasta, and we didn't have any gluten free in the house. Caprese salad? A depressing thought for my cheese-loving mother. Sure, there are a lot of things you can do with basil seasoning dishes, but what do you do when you need to use up that big bunch you've been ignoring on the counter and you can't include two of its favorite friends?
Risotto. That amazing old Italian standby (so the basil still feels at home). The base is your basic risotto recipe (minus the parmesan cheese. more on that later). We blanched a head of spinach, squeezed it dry and added that along with roughly a cup of basil leaves to a food processor. Blend well. Then cook the risotto. When the risotto has just finished cooking, carefully mix in the green mixture, and remove from heat.
Now here is where you would typically add your parmesan cheese, and there are numerous vegan recipes that substitute brewers yeast, but I just added a dollop of butter and stirred until everything was well blended. A sprinkle of pine nuts (we used walnuts) on top and you're ready to dig in.
I was shocked at how flavorful it was. Perhaps our taste buds were influenced by the wine we cooked with, but there really was this tasty dish in front of us. The basil came through in a remarkable way, and we both ended up having seconds (well, perhaps thirds). The whole time we're cooking my mother patiently listened to me expound upon the wonders of basil.
"It's not just a culinary herb, it's a medicinal herb. Have I already told you that?" I said while my mom rolled her eyes after hearing me say that for the fifth time. Basil really is quite marvelous, with very potent essential oils that make it great for healthy microbial balance. Add to that its ability to aid in the digestive tract and you have the perfect recipe for taste and health! I think I'll help myself to some of that leftover risotto.
Written by Carrie Pattison, WishGarden Education Director
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.